ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Jim Harbaugh and the 4-1 Michigan Wolverines have a chance to pick up more than just a big win on the field today against undefeated Northwestern.
Michigan—like most other major college football programs across the country playing at home—is hosting a slew of official and unofficial recruiting visitors this weekend; and while that’s always big news; there’s one very notable name attending the game who is without a doubt stealing the headlines.
That player just so happens to be the top 2016 running back recruit in the nation. Perhaps even more newsworthy, though, is the fact that he’s also committed to Michigan’s biggest rival: Ohio State.
It’s been reported by multiple recruiting outlets that 5-star running back, and yes, Buckeyes commit, Kareem Walker is visiting Michigan’s game vs. Northwestern this afternoon on an official visit. At first, according to ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren, this was news he didn’t want getting out there.
Ohio State RB Kareem Walker initially didn’t want it out there but he is taking a visit to Michigan this weekend. No. 1 ranked RB in 2016
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) October 9, 2015
It’s worth noting, though, that early Saturday morning Walker retweeted MichiganInsider.com editor Sam Webb, who relayed that the 5-star and his teammate, Quayshon Alexander (a Nebraska commit, mind you) had indeed made in to Michigan; so it seems that he’s now okay with the proverbial cat being out of the bag.
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) October 10, 2015
How this visit impacts Walker’s recruitment remains to be seen, but keep in mind that this is the second time he’s visited Michigan, but the first in the Harbaugh era. This will also be his first visit for a game at the Big House, and anyone who has ever experienced that should be able to tell you that “experience” is the correct word to use. Even in Michigan’s down years, the aura of the Big House is arguably unmatched by any venue in college football.
Of course, to jump to conclusions would be foolish, because it’s not as if Walker is committed to a MAC school and the writing is on the wall that he’ll be a flip. Though the level of play has been a bit down this year, don’t forget that Ohio State is the reigning national champion and Urban Meyer is easily one of the best recruiters and closers in college football. Harbaugh boasts his own resume as a recruiter, but the one thing that he doesn’t have that Urban does is those national titles, and that’s a huge factor in recruiting. Elite players want to play in and win big games; and while Harbaugh certainly has Michigan headed in the right direction; the Wolverines aren’t there…just yet.
The last factor to consider here in Michigan’s favor, though, is that Alexander, a 3-star defensive end, does have an offer from Harbaugh and the Wolverine. He doesn’t have an offer from Ohio State. The teammates are obviously just fine going their separate ways in college considering their commitments to OSU and Nebraska respectively, but keep in mind that Michigan can present them with the opportunity to play college ball together. Right now, that’s not something that OSU can do.
It’s going to be an interesting afternoon in Ann Arbor, and perhaps a tense one in Columbus.